Sarawak's state capital, Kuching, is simply unique. No other city in the region has such a romantic and unlikely history, nor displays its charms with such an easy grace. The narrow, bustling streets are crammed with shops, temples, colonial-style architecture and several interesting museums, including the historic Sarawak Museum.
A journey up and down the Sarawak River is the best way to get your first impression of Kuching, as you see picturesque Malay villages, a golden-domed mosque, a Victorian fort, a whole street of 19th century Chinese shophouses and an imposing wooden-roofed palace, all set against a backdrop of distant mountains.
The Sarawak Museum houses an extensive collection that includes tribal artefacts, indigenous wildlife and a recreated longhouse.
Kuching is also the ideal stepping stone to the cultural delights of Batang Ai, one of Sarawak's Iban heartlands with numerous communities dotted along the network of rivers that feed the Batang Ai reservoir, which is referred to as Sarawak's Blue Lagoon. The typical dwelling for these communities is the longhouse and many of those around the lake receive visitors for overnight stays, which allow you to step back in time and observe their lifestyle, ancient crafts and experience a blow pipe demonstration.
GMT +8 hours
There are no direct flights from the UK to Kuching and most travel via either Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Hong Kong, which takes approximately 16 hours.
April to September tends to have the drier, sunnier weather and the wetter months are October to March, particularly January.